Perpetual War Versus Perpetual Peace

By Michael Carmichael:

At the outset of 2011, we find ourselves one decade into a New Age of War.

The War on Terror is reconfiguring every dimension of our lives into its own image. 

The psychology of the New Age of War on Terror is altering the DNA of our civilization.

Racial profiling for terrorists is disturbing deep racisms within our fragile psyches, creating fears of foreigners and demonizing ‘illegal aliens’ as if they were all agents of the dreaded Al-Qaeda.

  • Many of our fellow citizens in the USA are deeply frightened by the mere appearance of foreign nationals.  
  • Many of our fellow Americans are deeply afraid of each and every Muslim on our planet.   
  • Congresswoman Sue Myrick of Charlotte is one of the most acute cases of Islamophobia in our nation. 
  • Islamophobia has swiftly overtaken Anti-Semitism as the acceptable form of xenophobia in the 21st century. 
  • Many of our leaders in government, politics, the military and the clergy advocate a long World War on Terror – in effect, committing America to a long and perpetual war with no end in sight. 

The goal of the neoconservatives who back perpetual war is a towering planetary monstrosity consisting of security checkpoints, cameras, armed guards – a malevolent and hostile place bristling with machine-gun wielding soldiers at border crossings and the ever present and watchful eyes of invisible intelligence agents who survey and supervise and map every minute detail of every human life on our planet.  This menacing tower of concrete and steel stands proud atop a massive infrastructure of prisons, jails and courthouses that control the flow of criminals and incarcerate the convicts, the accused and the merely suspicious among us.

Years ago and long before 9/11, the great historian, Charles Beard, observed that America engages in perpetual war for perpetual peace. 

Since the end of WWII, the United States has bombed, invaded, blockaded, bombarded, barraged and intimidated other nations with well over 200 violent acts of unilateral aggression.

But, the fine American tradition of promiscuous military intervention was not born with Pearl Harbor.  The roots of perpetual war dig much deeper into historical time than WWII.

The Americas were discovered and colonized by explorers working for the Spanish crown. 

Motivated by sheer greed rationalized by Roman Catholic religious dogma, Cortes and Pizarro launched genocidal attacks on Golden Age cultures demonized by Jesuits who testified that Native Americans worshipped the devil.

In contrast to the Spanish Conquistadores, Capitalistic colonists from northern Europe settled North America, but soon they, too, joined in the genocidal depopulation of Native Americans.  They introduced the importation of massive numbers of black slaves from Africa to propel the economic engines of the Sugar Islands and the plantation colonies of the South. 

Thomas Jefferson, the enlightened author of the Declaration and the Constitution, articulated the official Indian policy:  Clearance – ie. genocide or transportation beyond the frontier.  

That other great Democratic president, Andrew Jackson, a politician that North Carolina claims as her very own native son, executed the Jeffersonian policy in a genocidal military campaign that killed, maimed and transported Indian tribes and their nations en masse beyond the western frontier of the growing nation that rejected them and forced them outward into an oblivion beyond the howl of the wolf, “down the pathway of the dead men .   .    .   to the land of ghosts and shadows.”

Manifest Destiny was the driving ideology of James K. Polk, the second North Carolinian who reached the presidency.  The drive for the remote western frontier meshed with slavery to legitimize the onslaught of genocidal wars against Native Americans and the enslavement of the black race and their lighter descendants by white plantation owners, the bedrock of the economy of the antebellum South.

But, let us make no mistake — the cycle of conquest and war was not unique to the Americas. 

Ancient empires globalized their economies through the brutalities of genocide, slavery and colonization from ancient Mesopotamia to the horrific and prolific public mass executions of Ancient Egypt through the Assyrian Conquest, the Persian Conquest, the Babylonian Conquest, the rise of Alexander the Great and the career of Julius Caesar.

The Iliad of Homer records the blood-drenched hostilities between the kingdoms and city-states of ancient Greece locked in conflict for one entire decade with their Anatolian colony, Troy, over a single case of adultery.

In The Iliad, we learn not only of the blood-soaked savagery of ancient war, but also the practice of espionage, covert operations and psychological warfare—all insidious components of the strategy of war.

The Old Testament records accounts of prolific racial genocide; yet it is a text sacred to three of the world’s great monotheistic religions.

Ancient China was racked by three centuries of brutal civil war that led to the reign of the first Emperor, Huang Ti who founded the Chin Dynasty.

The Warring States period in China produced the literary contribution of Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War to extol the professionalization of the military and the overarching importance of secret intelligence operations.

By the year zero–the paradigm of highly organized genocide, subjugation, taxation and slavery established itself deeply in the DNA of civilization.

The tides of genocide and slavery led to the concentration of capital in the leading empires. 

The wealth of empires produced jealousy and rivalry that led to a rollicking rollercoaster ride of centuries of genocidal surges punctuated with splurges of blood-splattered violence on massive scales in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Pope Urban II, Pope Gregory VIII, Richard the Lionheart, Pope Innocent III, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Suleiman the Magnificent, Henry IV, Pope Julius II, Ivan the Terrible and Frederick the Great all locked into the horrific trend of ultra-violence:  war, racism, genocide and slavery.

The democratic revolutions that followed the French Revolution and Napoleon eventually established a new generation of nation states including Germany and Italy that were anxious to compete with the bloated global empires of Britain, France, Spain, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. 

In the closing decades of the 19th century, wars and nationalistic competition for capital led to a radical intensification of the intrigues of espionage and diplomacy, realpolitik and the articulation of ultra-violence through the harsh implementation of blood and iron – ‘Blut und gutte’ in the words of Bismarck, the architect of atrocities who posed and preened his elaborate uniforms with the egomania of a power-mad narcissist. 

Eventually, the interlocking diplomatic treaties – both public and secret — led to a crisis triggered by the assassination of a frankly tertiary figure in world history – the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by an agent of the Black Hand in Sarajevo in 1913. 

World War I elevated the level of inhumanity to stratospheric altitudes never before envisioned.  The pace of technology was quickly geared to manufacture an exponential explosion of lethality. 

The mass manufacture of machine guns, bombs, huge cannons, battleships, the submarine and, of course, the airplane all converged to render human frailty unto the horrific tortures of No Man’s Land; trench warfare and heroic battles in the sky before the invention of the parachute.

Millions of heroic men, women and children were slaughtered.  The Somme, Paschendale, the Marne, Gallipoli, the Western Front and Ypres produced an infinitude of corpses of unknown soldiers reduced to detached fragments of flesh, blood and bone.

America remained aloof from the European slaughter – until German torpedoes sank the Lusitania and the engines of propaganda revved up the fear and hatred of our nation to enter the most blood-soaked conflict in world history – fully three years after that conflict started. 

America finally entered World War I in 1917 and flooded the old continent with doughboys armed with rifles, a modicum of military discipline and a new wave of racist propaganda demonizing the Hun, Germany and everything Axis.

After securing Peace at the end of 1918, President Wilson went to Versailles to codify the Treaty and to launch his concept for a League of Nations – an idea he borrowed from Immanuel Kant who proposed a Federation of Nations to impose Permanent Peace through international law in 1795.

While war torn Europe hastened to organize and sustain Wilson’s League of Nations, the ‘Irreconcilable’ Republicans led by William Borah, a progressive trust-busting and devoutly isolationist Senator from Idaho objected to Wilsonian globalism compelling America to abstain from the first serious experiment in international law enforcement aimed at Perpetual Peace.

The unstoppable slide from WWI to WWII is well known.  The Versailles Treaty created massive economic hardship, impoverishment and resentment in Weimar Germany. 

The tide of fear, hatred and anti-Semitic racial jealousy of Jewish capital coagulated in the tortured mind of Adolf Hitler who articulated his doctrine of National Socialism predicated on Aryan Supremacy and the freedom of the State — not the freedom of the individual, mind you – the freedom of the State.

In Hitler’s mind, the State morphed into the Reich – the wonderful Empire that would recreate the classical supremacy of Greece and Rome by military conquest and the suppression of racial minorities from Jews to Gypsies and from the deformed to the disabled to the gay. 

The rise of Nazism surged uncontrollably through the veins of Europe.  Fascism swept across the classical architecture and landscape of the continent. 

Fascism, Nazism and that other totalitarianism, Communism, reconfigured the world as they threatened to ‘bury’ Capitalism in a sealed sarcophagus and sink it into a deep and inescapable tomb carved into the marbled veins of history.

Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Stalin were Bismarckian supermen. 

Propelled by massive doses of drugs and adoring cults of personality, Hitler and Mussolini pratted and strutted like political popes posing and posturing on their balconies of power to hypnotize their audiences through monotonous harangues extolling Aryan Supremacy to project themselves as the reincarnations of Caesars who would return Europe to the unsurpassable glories of classical Athens and Rome. 

Josef Stalin led the Russian Revolution away from the blood-drenched past of classical capitalistic elitism toward the shining new city of a socialist Atlantis and the arrival of a new generation of humanity – sans greed, sans ego, sans personal desire in a future society sans class and sans state.

Hitler conned and cowered the British into appeasement, then he accomplished the unbelievable — a diplomatic treaty with his archenemy — Stalin.

That sagacious Imperialist, Churchill instantly recognized this dictatorial diplomatic anomaly for what it was, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma — a freakish and ectoplasmic hermaphrodite that would soon vanish from the pages of time.

Carnage returned to Europe as Hitler unleashed his dogs of war – the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe surged across Europe sending waves of blitzkrieg to shock and awe the Dutch, the Belgians and the French into swift submissions to Nazi power.

Britain was another matter.  Protected by the English Channel, the Luftwaffe screamed over the white cliffs of Dover and bombarded the civilian populations of London in a brutal series of Blitzen bombings that gave terrorism its name.

Across the Atlantic, FDR armed Churchill with ships while he was politically restrained by isolationist Republicans collaborating with a few isolationist Democrats like Joseph Kennedy who proclaimed that America had no quarrel with Hitler whatsoever and no reason to be concerned about his treatment of the Jews, either. 

Turning away shiploads of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany was popular everywhere in Europe and America in the 1930s. 

Anti-Semitism was especially popular on the Republican right led by the Dulles family and their fair-haired boy, Thomas Dewey. 

The future Director of Central Intelligence, Allen Dulles, exchanged ribald anti-Semitic jokes with Adolf Hitler in Die Fuhrer’s palatial office in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. 

A long complicated and largely secret series of strategies led to the clash of cultures we now know as WWII. 

In a clandestine danse macabre, both sides orchestrated the world’s leading scientists in pursuit of a new technologique of megadeath. 

Both sides developed terrifyingly potent secret weapons. 

In underground caves at Peenemunde, the Nazis produced the scintillating rocket technology of Werner Von Braun that terrorized Britain until the final days of the war. 

In darkened chambers from Philadelphia to Los Alamos, the Americans and the British nurtured the Manhattan Project.

FDR died before Manhattan produced that massive and mysterious mushroom cloud over White Sands in the bright summer of 1945. 

In Potsdam, Harry Truman met Stalin face-to-face and eyeball-to-eyeball in a cold-blooded poker game for control of the postwar world amid an atmosphere crackling with the threat of World War III. 

In his secret chamber, Truman pressed the button of Atomic War and synchronized that massive pulse of death over Hiroshima in a calculated ploy to coincide with his diplomatic poker game with Stalin at Potsdam. 

In less than one second, Truman’s secret orders launched the Enola Gay and dropped “Little Boy” – a comic book name for an atomic bomb that vaporized the bodies, minds and spirits of more than one hundred thousand Japanese civilians whose existences instantaneously transformed in one nanosecond from normal to a searing explosion into microscopic fragments of flying globules of sizzling flesh and broken double-helixes of DNA. 

To underscore the postwar pecking order, Truman ordered the cosmic incineration of Nagasaki three days later by an even stronger blast from “Big Boy” – the code name for the largest explosion ever created in world history.

A world weary with wars was shocked and awed and jolted and traumatized into the new postwar reality—cosmic death hung over every human being like an atomic sword of Damocles. 

Truman did not stop there.  Soon, Truman’s secret orders organized the Pentagon and created the Central Intelligence Agency, the primary and secondary engines of American military supremacy.

Without a second thought, Truman issued even more secret orders that led to the launch of the Cold War – a Permanent War for Permanent Peace as Gore Vidal paid homage to Beard in his brilliant book about the follies of Truman’s infernal vision of the America of the future.

In the lifetimes of most of those present here today, the world arrived at the precipice of permanent war and blindly crossed over — like The Fool of Tarot — onto the threshold of Mars, the red planet, the ruler of war.

While it is true that Wilsonian ideals and Kant’s vision of permanent peace inspired the formation of the United Nations, that organization has been able to do very little to contain much less restrain the ultra-violence boiling out of the volcanic superpowers over the past six decades.
Vying for control of the future and the wealth of the planet, the two remaining superpowers — the USSR and the USA fought fiercely against one another through a long and debilitating series of catastrophes:  Korea; covert operations and coup d’etats across the planet; revolutions in Cuba and Africa; the Arms Race; the Space Race; Vietnam; détente, Afghanistan unto the era of Reagan and Gorbachev.

With the restructuring (perestroika) and openness (glasnost) of the Soviet Union, the Cold War came to an end in the political reconfiguration of Eurasia into Russia with its former satellites emergent as new nation states — paralleled by the soaring political hegemony of the United States and its scintillating economic boom of the 1990s.

Throughout the Cold War, successive American governments of both parties prosecuted brutal and savage foreign policies with only a few exceptions.

JFK — for all his personal faults and human frailty — reconfigured the CIA by jettisoning its outmoded carapace with its Machiavellian role of espionage, covert operations and its factory for the mass production of coups to the simple but complex primary task of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. 

JFK fired Allen Dulles — one of the most powerful people on the planet, a man who wielded immense personal power to topple governments, assassinate heads of state and their scores of subordinates, as well as to sabotage factories, laboratories and battleships at the whims of Eisenhower, Nixon or simply his own highly informed volition. 

In place of an amoral criminal mastermind like Dulles, JFK appointed John McCone, a scientist who had been the head of the Atomic Energy Administration, now charged to redirect the CIA in pursuit of Kennedy’s crucial mission — global nuclear non-proliferation.

To redirect and control science and technology that had become massive top secret laboratories modeled on the Manhattan Project for the development of larger and more dangerous bombs and weapons, JFK proposed the Space Race — a non-violent form of scientific and technological competition aimed at the exploration of the universe.

After JFK’s assassination, LBJ appointed Richard Helms – a consummate covert operative in the classical mold of Alan Dulles — to head the CIA and business swiftly returned to the usual counterproductive rigamarole of coups, assassinations and covert operations.

In the raging current of American history, Richard Nixon emerged as a common criminal with imperial and dictatorial pretensions who transformed from Quaker innocence into a presidential Mr. Hyde — a recklessly conspiratorial president eventually hoist on his own petard by Watergate.

Nixon’s protégé, the haughty Henry Kissinger, openly admired Bismarck and attempted to emulate his principles of realpolitik throughout the latter third of the 20th century — a period dominated by a plague of increasingly vicious and racist wars.  A little known fact is that since leaving his office as Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger has operated an unbelievably lucrative practice of “consultancy” that provided a wealth of consistently wrong-headed advice at a cost of millions of dollars to his clientele — mostly the US government during the Reagan Era.  Kissinger’s latest contribution to world affairs was to lend his heavyweight political support to the candidacies of John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008.

When Jimmy Carter arrived in the Oval Office, he changed gears on the Pentagon and the CIA’s tempo and pace of brutal covert assassinations and coups to become the only president of the past century who never ordered troops into battle on foreign soil.  That abortive military fiasco in the desert of Iran was not an invasion — it was a botched rescue mission.

That corny actor, Ronald Reagan, perpetrated a savage and brutal foreign policy in Central America to enforce discipline throughout Latin America, a region that began flexing its democratic aspirations after Carter returned sovereignty over the Panama Canal in accordance with longstanding international agreements originally authorized by Teddy Roosevelt.

Under the authority of Reagan and Bush, Sr. perpetual war ground on and on to the strains of evangelical hymns of masses of Moral Majoritarians led by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell supporting the doomed presidency of the hack actor whose credibility collapsed with the revelations of the Iran-Contra scandal.  Photos of Reagan dead asleep during Cabinet meetings and the discovery of his reliance on the counsel of an astrologer who designed a palpable part of his official schedule simultaneously exonerated and humiliated his presidency.

The denouement of the Reagan Era imploded in the promiscuous military adventurism in Panama and the Persian Gulf under America’s first spy chief to ascend to the presidency, George Herbert Walker Bush.

Promising to fix the ailing economy, Bill Clinton confidently dispatched the badly out of touch Bush, Sr.

Clinton’s first term was relatively peaceful with Jimmy Carter and Warren Christopher defusing potentially explosive situations in North Korea and Haiti, but when Dick Morris replaced James Carville — Clinton shifted hard right. 

In swift succession, Clinton fired Warren Christopher and replaced him with Madeleine Albright, a stern, doctrinaire and hawkish Secretary of State who helped set the stage for neoconservatism and the ill-conceived expansion of NATO.

In Clinton’s last term, the neocons rose from the ashes of Reaganism to impose their vision of a hegemonic American Empire predicated on military domination of the Middle East and its vast energy reserves that would yield dominion over our tiny planet for years to come.

Yearning for a “new Pearl Harbor” — a triggering event that would permit them to press the launch button on the military subjugation of the planet — the neocons coalesced behind the candidacy of George W. Bush in 1999.

At a low-profile conference in Texas in September 1999, intelligence chiefs from Russia, China, Europe, Asia and America met to anoint George W. Bush as the next President of the United States of America.  The world intelligence community got the message — a secret and powerful military junta was moving into position in America to impose a new world order that would launch the dream of the neocons — a New American Century.

Today, America presides over a global empire of 900 military bases spread across our tiny planet with two wars blazing away in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our nation is poised to launch the next phase of global war against Iran with a dazzling array of armaments led by the US Fifth Fleet, a massive flotilla of ships of war stationed from the Persian Gulf from the Straits of Hormuz to Kuwait and in the Arabian Sea.  In this tense region of the planet, the US Fifth Fleet is supported by a flotilla of three Dolphin class submarines from the Israeli Seventh Flotilla reportedly armed with up to twelve highly accurate Popeye Turbo cruise missiles fitted with nuclear warheads with a range of 930 miles.

For those amongst us who are opposed to war — those of us who favor peace — we are locked in a struggle against a tsunami of time — and we are losing the battle. 

Even so, we are more organized that any time in world history. 

The internet is a powerful platform to inform and organize, and there is literally everything to play for in this game of life versus death. 

The stakes are high, but more and more people demand progress from their governments, and we must keep doing what we are doing.

The future belongs to people willing to make a difference—people like those in this room here today.


A lecture delivered to the Elders for Peace, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, July 19, 2010
Michael Carmichael is a historian and political consultant.  Carmichael has worked in the US presidential campaigns of:  Robert Francis Kennedy; Eugene McCarthy; Hubert Horatio Humphrey; George S. McGovern; Jimmy Carter and Dennis J. Kucinich.  In addition to his work in many US and international political campaigns, Carmichael spent twenty-two years conducting multidisciplinary research in Oxford.  While in Great Britain, Carmichael was a spokesman for Democrats Abroad on the BBC, ITN and other television networks.  At international forums, Carmichael has been a featured speaker in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.  Carmichael has debated at the Oxford Union.  In 2003, Carmichael founded Planetary, a non-governmental organization that promotes world peace and social progress.  

Michael Carmichael is the author of:

  • “Propaganda & the Politics of Perception,“ a lecture before the War Crimes Conference, Kuala Lumpur, 2007;
  • “Government by Public Relations from the Assassination of Caesar to Bush,” published in A Complicated, Antagonistic and Symbiotic Affair, Milan, 2007, and
  • “The Crisis in Zimbabwe,” Minutes of Evidence, published by The Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, The House of Commons, Westminster, 2003.

Michael Carmichael is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Michael Carmichael

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